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Of packaging lines and racing cars

Benchmarking with other highly competitive industries is essential for leading companies in the packaging market. History shows numerous successful applications of innovations applied to different markets, for example, Ford assembly lines and Wal-Mart distribution innovations. The same concept of benchmarking applies to packaging lines and racing cars. Saving a fraction of a second on a filling cycle at a consumer company may save $1 million per year, and it can also make the difference between winning or losing an auto race. This is a lesson Hendrick Motorsports' (HMS) teams know well. HMS utilizes a wide array of technology to succeed, and this technical edge has helped support four Winston Cup championships. From engine performance to suspension to pit-stop effectiveness, all aspects are optimized in order to attain victory.

Packaging line changeovers draw sharp parallels to pit-stop optimization. In fact, world-class packaging companies have trained packaging teams using pit-stop techniques as a model.

To support its pit-stop efforts, HMS uses the 20/20 Hindsight high-speed digital video system from Monitoring Technology Corp. Solving production and quality issues requires the ability to actually see the problem occur. With today's high-speed equipment, staring at a suspected problem area waiting for a failure and then guessing at corrective action is both inefficient and time-consuming. 20/20 Hindsight eliminates wasted time and money by utilizing a patented technology to record digital video while storing up to 48 continuous hours, even while simultaneously reviewing previously recorded events. Just point the camera at a potential issue and walk away. After the next line jam or product defect, simply scroll back and replay in slow motion.

20/20 Hindsight provides another set of eyes on the manufacturing floor. The system can take pictures at up to 0.00001 of a second shutter speed, constantly record up to 60 picture/sec and hold multiple hours of video in a circular buffer. The system continuously records video and allows users to look back in time to see exactly what caused packaging jams or process upsets. 20/20 Hindsight can also read trigger input from PLCs, video systems and other equipment to create video events and mark to the exact millisecond. The system can even record and display up to four camera views synchronized in time. By seeking the root cause, line personnel can make the proper adjustments and improve efficiency. In addition, users are able to increase the speed of the operation and determine where quality issues are starting. 20/20 Hindsight provides users with a tool to run faster, more efficiently and with less defects. Without 20/20 Hindsight, operators are running blind, without the ability to review what really caused downtime.

Applies to both packaging and pit-stops
Says Matt Clark, pit crew coach, Hendrick Motorsports, "Using the 20/20 Hindsight system, we can capture and analyze a full pit-stop in high-resolution detail, or focus on something as specific as the angle of an air gun removing lugs. With these added capabilities, our teams will reduce errors and continually improve their efficiency?winning the war in the pits, week in and week out." HMS points out four essential aspects that apply to both packaging and pit-stops: time studies to optimize actions, training on each action, measurement of results and post-review of performance.

The high-speed digital video system captures images of events taking place on packaging lines for later review and analysis. Shown here (left to right), are a piece of metal catching on the pull-tab of a flip-top can, glass bottles shattering in a rotary filler and lids being applied to deodorant containers.

Time studies: A single camera mounted on a boom over the car monitors each member of the pit crew, as the high-speed video times each action. Complex models are generated to determine how to squeeze 1/4 sec from the stop. Similarly, packaging companies study how each line changeover should be performed. Activities are scheduled to allow for the minimum time required and each team member has a function during the changeover.

Says Bob Trimpe, application engineer for R.A. Jones, "We've had the 20/20 Hindsight system for about eight months and use it both at our own plant and at customers' plants. It holds up to eight hours of data, and we can set it to record data even when we're not there. Then we can go back and look at things

High-speed video system solves packaging line issues. It eliminates wasted time and money by utilizing a patented technology to record digital video images, while storing up to 48 continuous hours.

that happened when we were recording, whether it was ten minutes or two hours ago. For example, a cartoner may have trouble opening cartons, but we don't know whether it's a problem with the machine or with faulty cartons. We can go back and look at the operation on the video and pinpoint the cause of the problem immediately without guessing or assuming."

Training: Each action is recorded in high-speed video; so different pit-crew members can see how to perform the actions more quickly. Failures are reviewed to stop reoccurrence, especially during race time. Training multiline teams to accomplish complex changeovers can be difficult. Mistakes can cause massive line downtime and defective output.

High-speed video can be used as a reference. Video can show "perfect" procedure or "perfect" machine operation.

Gary Gresnick, an engineering manager ay Procter &Gamble, says that being able to play back failures caused by operator error provided P&G's operators with a better understanding of their role and interactions with the packing line. "Our skilled mechanics and electricians use the camera during shift-change meetings to show the next crew what to watch for and how to fix the problems. The ability to save clips even allows training of operators who have been on vacation for a week and may have missed some key learning sessions. I can envision a time when we will be able to e-mail clips to other production sites with similar equipment and further enhance learning opportunities."

Hendrick Motorsports uses the video system to fine-tune the training of its pit-crew technicians. In the example above, a tech practices removing a lug nut. HMS has learned how to perfect this procedure to shave tenths of a second off of their stops. The tech actually removes the wrench while the nut is still on the lug. With proper technique, momentum will propel the nut off while the wrench is moved to the next nut. Photos © HMS.

Measurement of results: Video clearly shows how long each action requires and shows the entire pit-stop time. In an auto race, hundredths of a second are shaved with review of video and training. This saved time often translates into winning or losing. Similarly, hundredths of a second may also determine whether a packaging line wins or loses in the market. Reducing line changeover time or equipment dwell times can easily drive cost out of production and increase line flexibility. Companies look to manufacturing to be a competitive weapon in the market. High-speed video can help uncover these wasted seconds. "20/20 Hindsight provides a powerful tool for our service team," say Russ Coffman, a project engineer at SIG Combibloc. "By using the system, we can optimize our machines and other packaging equipment to help customers increase production."

Review of performance: HMS plots the time of each action and the pit-stop both for practices and for races. Like in packaging, performance after the stop is critical. If a tire is put on quickly but later fails due to a small cut during installation, the team still loses.

As improved performance metrics are utilized in the operation of lines, improved tools will be needed to drive efficiency improvements and eliminate short machine stops. "20/20 Hindsight is easy to use and can look at places/angles that operators cannot," says Gresnick. "It provides continuous monitoring, while operators are free to do other work, and provides the frame-by-frame analysis of each failure that is critical in identifying root causes. After having this camera for more than a year, I can't imagine running a packaging line (efficiently, anyway) without one."

20/20 Hindsight is used by more than 200 customers to play back the cause of line jams, to provide a training platform and to optimize equipment for maximum output. Several of the top equipment manufacturers, such as SIG Doboy, R.A. Jones, Scandia, Arpac, Schneider, Autoprod, Holmatic, Brenton Engineering, use 20/20 Hindsight in their own plants.

More information is available:

High-speed video system: Monitoring Technology Corp., 703/698-5520. Circle No. 210.

Sustainable packaging for Fisher nuts

Sustainable packaging for Fisher nuts

John B. Sanfilippo & Son's Fisher® Chef's Naturals baking nuts now come in earth-friendly packaging. It can be called Earth-Friendly because a portion of it is made using plant-based renewable resources, not oil. Plant-based renewable resources can include corn, cellulose and wood pulp.

Sanfilippo recognizes the importance of doing its’ part in helping the environment, as American businesses of all sorts have come to grips with the potentially serious consequences of using nonrenewable resources. The new packaging does not affect the quality, freshness or shelf life of the products.

And that's just the start. Efforts at Safilippo are underway to reduce energy usage and to continue to research packaging materials and processing methods to reduce emissions and waste.

There is little doubt that consumers are getting the message, as more than half are now familiar with the term “sustainability,” which is beginning to influence packagers of the brands they buy and the perception they have of businesses in general.

Still, each consumer “appears to have his or her own take on what sustainability actually means,” according to a report at “As consumers move from the periphery to the core, we see that their sustainability consciousness extends outward from the individual’s need to the wider environment around them,” says Alison Worthington, managing director for sustainability at consumer research group, The Hartman Group. “Consumer attitudes toward sustainability tend to be more aspirational and behavior-based,” Worthington says, “and since they feel fairly powerless as individuals to make change happen, they have great expectations and hopes for companies to do the right thing.”

Source: John B. Sanfilippo & Son's

Alcan's new "lever" champagne closure

Alcan's new "lever" champagne closure

Alcan's world-first metal champagne closure is operated by a lever and has cost EUR 1m to develop, the company reveals.The Maestro metal closure was officially launched on May 5, adorning French vineyard Champagne Duval-Leroy's Clos des Bouveries 2004 vintage, giving the first glimpse of a system that has been touted as a replacement for the traditional champagne cork.

Gently unsealing a plastic cap when pulled, Alcan's lever device will be fitted initially to several thousand bottles from the Duval-Leroy champagne house to test market reaction.

According to Alcan Packaging Capsules, the division that developed the closure, the Maestro was in development for three years and its system retains the evocative "popping" sound of traditional cork closures when the bottle is opened.

Maestro can, the company says, be provided in a range of materials including leather and fabrics and opens up almost unlimited decoration options for champagne and other sparkling wines.

News of the new closure broke last month, although neither Alcan nor Duval-Leroy made any further details of the closures public at the time. Alcan would only say that the closure was "revolutionary".

Duval-Leroy Champagne president Carol Duval-Leroy points out that the closure issue was "of crucial importance" for the Champagne region of France, where champagne is produced.

She says the launch of the new closure would "open the debate" on closures for champagne and demonstrated her own vineyard's "links between heritage and innovation."


Global packaging gathers at interpack

A total of 2,300 exhibitors from 57 countries have reserved 1.7 million sq ft of exhibit space at the fairgrounds in Dusseldorf, Germany, for interpack 2005, the 17th International Trade Fair for Packaging Machinery, Packaging and Confectionery Machinery. The event takes place from April 21 to 27. Admission tickets and show directories can be ordered online ( at reduced prices. One-day tickets purchased online are EUR 35 each (or EUR 55 at the show), and three-day tickets cost EUR 80 each.

All entrance passes allow free transportation within D?sseldorf. The show directory goes on sale at the end of March for EUR 20 for a printed version or EUR 30 with a CD-ROM. The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute has collected information on the exhibits of many of its members. To view this, go to and click on the Product Showcase.

Since the last interpack in 2002, the fairgrounds have undergone several construction projects, including a new hall (Hall 8) and expansion of Hall 13. The North entrance has been restructured and the train station modernized.

For information on visiting interpack 2005, contact Messe Dusseldorf North America at 312/781-5180 or e-mail Or visit either or For hotel and travel information, contact TTI Travel at 866/674-3476.

The following exhibitors have a marketing message in this issue:

  • American Fuji Seal, Inc. —4B50, page C-2

  • Automated Packaging Systems —11D78, page 65

  • Benison & Co. Ltd. —13D75/E90, page 14

  • Bosch Rexroth Corp.—6A65, page 31

  • Flexicon Corp.—5B24, page 10

  • Fortress Technology, Inc.—5B02-4, page 32

  • Innovia Films—10B22, page 26

  • KHS-Bartelt, Inc.—5F41G42, page 23

  • KURZ Transfer Products LLC—9E28, page 1

  • Langen Packaging, Inc.—16B28, page 40

  • Loesch Verpackungstechnik GmbH—15A31/A39, page 27

  • Markem Corp.—4A45, page 21

  • Morrison Container Handling Solutions—9A17, page 58

  • Norden, Inc.—16D12, page 46

  • Nordson Corp.—15C44, page 17

  • Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute—12F01, page 13

  • QuickLabel Systems—11A80, page 33

  • Robert Bosch—6B29/A67, page 55

  • Sick, Inc.—13C60, page 57

  • TNA North America, Inc.—17C15, page 20

  • VBS Intl.—6D43, page 15

  • Videojet Technologies—6C39, page 19

SouthPack action plan

The Georgia World Congress Center plays host to SouthPack 2007 and four other shows at the end of April. Among the exhibits will be machinery and machinery components, containers, custom automation equipment and components, materials, robotics, packaging services and software. In addition, two special-feature product pavilions will also be offered: Medical/Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Packaging and Material Handling and Logistics.

The other four shows co-locating with SouthPack are Powder & Bulk Solids Southeast; AMExpo (Advanced Manufacturing Exposition & Conference)/ATX South (Automation Technology Expo); Design & Manufacturing South; and Plastec South. Registration for any show includes the other five; registration online, including during show days, is free. Onsite is $45.

SouthPack show hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 24 and 25 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 26.

For more information, the show organizer, Canon Communications LLC, can be reached at 310/445-4200. Online registration is available at

As of presstime, the following exhibitors at SouthPack have a special marketing message in this issue:

  • AC Tech—2349

  • Advanced Poly-Packaging—1421

  • Auto Labe—1331

  • Cognex Corp.—2251

  • DE-STA-CO Industries—2156

  • Digital Design—1125

  • Eriez Magnetics—2011

  • Imaje Ink Jet Printing Corp.—923

  • JW Winco, Inc.—2124

  • Kaeser Compressors—1027

  • KGK Intl. Corp.—609

  • Multivac, Inc.—1231

  • PakTech—622

  • Pearson Packaging Systems—1139

  • Prism, Inc.—1017

  • QuickLabel Systems—1243

  • SAS Automation—839

  • Stäubli—2227

  • Tharo Systems—535

  • Tri-Tronics Co.—2614

PE nucleation agent

PE nucleation agent
PE nucleation agent

PE nucleation agentHyperform HPN-20E, a PE nucleation agent, is available globally to enable higher peak crystallization temperatures that can cut cycle times and drive productivity improvements of 10 to 20 percent (depending upon processing and resin design), the co. states. It can also increase oxygen and water vapor barrier performance between 20 to 40 percent, providing the possibility of extended shelf life of perishable contents such as dry foods, dairy products, vitamins and nutraceuticals. This technology is appropriate for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) used in blown film, extrusion blow molding and injection molding, as well as in linear-low-density PE (LLDPE), especially C4 gas phase LLDPE.

Milliken & Co., 864/503-2020.

Bioplastic industry defies economic crisis

"Coca-Cola does it, Frito-lay does it and so too do Samsung and Hyundai." This is how Andy Sweetman, chairman of the European Bioplastics' Board summarizes the fact that an increasing number of renowned brand owners are turning to bioplastics to enhance their products' image.

While Coca-Cola recently kicked off a marketing campaign in selected countries introducing its PET PlantBottle, 30% of which consists of plant based material, Samsung introduced a cell phone partly made of biodegradable plastics, the Samsung Reclaim. Aldi, one of Germany's largest discounters, introduced biodegradable shopping bags, letting customers decide between compostable and conventional plastic bags. Hyundai draws on PLA for the interior of its next generation hybrid car, and Frito-lay announced the use of bioplastics in their SunChips packaging. According to Sweetman, "these are but a few examples where the products of our innovative industry eventually end up."

Correspondingly, despite the economic crisis, European Bioplastics' members are investing in new plants, in further innovation and cooperations. For example, Nature Works just doubled its production capacity of PLA and Braskem made big investments for this year's start-up of bio-based PE. BASF introduced new biodegradable plastics for coating paper and shrink-film while Novamont launched the 2nd generation of Mater-Bi, and Purac, Sulzer and Synbra kicked off a cooperation in the field of foamed PLA products.

"Of course we still have a long way to go, before we can actually talk about real market penetration. On the other hand, Rome wasn't built in a day, either" Sweetman concludes.

Source: the association European Bioplastics


Consumer packaging trends that are impacting the industry

Consumer packaging trends that are impacting the industry
Consumer trends in packaging

Consumer trends in packaging

Consumers are continually changing the way they view, interact with and discard packaging. Whether you're a manufacturer or a product marketer, you know how important it is to reflect the changing needs of the consumer in your products.

From convenience to traceability, here are five of the most important consumer packaging trends you need to know about to maximize the potential of packaging your products in today's market.

1. Sustainability

Consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of global environmental issues and are changing their buying habits accordingly. These days, it's 'cool to care', and consumers are actively seeking out semiotic signs on packaging that manufacturers have a green conscience (but are wary of green washing). Understanding how commitment to sustainability can be communicated in an engaging way on the packaging is key to attracting, relating to, and keeping consumers. 

Sustainable Packaging: Myth or Reality, an expert white paper by PWC, explains how sustainable practice has become essential to the perception and identity of a brand. In line with their ambition to be the 'most sustainable and desirable sportswear brand', Puma worked with PWC to produce an environmental profit and loss account, highlighting a €145 million environmental impact across their supply chain. Recognition of this allows them to build a more sustainable and resilient model for the future, and to communicate their green achievements to consumers. 

It seems that sustainability is no longer an optional add-on - it's an essential part of future business planning for those in the packaging industry. The complete story of a product is becoming a key factor in purchasing decisions - where does it come from, how was it made, what are its recycling credentials? 

2. Healthy living

The health and wellness sector is booming, reflecting a wider public desire to understand what is and isn't good for us. Consumers now expect packaging and branding to display the health credentials of the product both quickly and concisely allowing them to make informed choices about their food. Regulations often stipulate how this information must be displayed, and packaging must balance these needs.

The healthy living market is crowded, and it can be difficult to attract (and maintain) attention from the shelf. It's therefore important for packaging to focus on unique benefits, such as natural ingredients and formulations, offering transparency on the label. Innovative methods of displaying and preserving fresh food will also be key for short and long term success.

Healthy snacking alternatives may be a way of overcoming this issue. Increased consumer snacking encourages product innovations offering healthy snacks in smaller pack formats, such as Snack-a-jacks; light snacks in small packets with an advertised low fat content.

3. Convenience

Increasingly busy lifestyles mean that consumers are seeking ease of use and convenient transportation from their packaging. Smaller, lighter and more easily disposable packaging makes consumption-on-the-go easier. Innovations such as no-mess applicators and dispensers eliminate the need for additional packaging, further adding to a no-fuss and disposable approach.

This need for convenience is particularly visible in the supermarket chilled foods sector. Tesco has recently introduced reseal-able packs among a variety of their savoury snacks, successfully balancing convenience with perceived freshness. Another innovation by Tesco is their Tomato and Chicken Pasta Salad, which has shifted from plastic to paper board, leading to increased visibility of the product which aids in impulse buying decisions.

4. Authenticity and Trust

As a result of several global food scandals, such as the discovery of horsemeat in beef burgers in many UK supermarkets, there is now more demand for transparency between manufacturers and consumers.

Origins of products need to be traceable back to their source to re-establish trust throughout the supply chain. Advertised provenance on packaging increases perceptions of credibility and authenticity, and reassures consumers of high quality and truthful produce. The Brand Owner Trends Report by Smithers Pira goes one step further by linking local provenance to sustainability, stressing that brands should communicate the carbon footprint benefits of consumers buying a local brand. This is particularly effective in the yellow fats and butter market due to increased demand for natural ingredients in high fat foods. 

5. Cost-effective shopping

There's no avoiding global economic uncertainty. Understandably, consumers don't want to pay any more than they have to for their packaged goods and cost is one of the first considerations made when making buying decisions.

There is a growing tendency for consumers to make purchases when they are running out of a specific product, as opposed to taking an in advance, 'pantry-loading' approach as has been the norm. Smaller and easier to carry types of packaging therefore hold the greatest potential for these money-conscious, last minute shoppers.

If you need to know more about consumer packaging trends, download Smithers Pira's full, comprehensive report, The Brand Owner's Trend Report: Consumer Packaging to 2018

The Brand Owner's Trend Report: Consumer Packaging to 2018 provides you with all you need to know about packaging trends and includes: a strategic guide to the relationship between brands and packaging, the impact of new technologies, changing consumer attitudes, and opportunities for brand owners, converters and suppliers for the next five years.

Source: Smithers Pira